Swedes strengthen military contingency in the face of Russian activity

STOCKHOLM (AP) — A top Swedish military chief said on Friday there was an increase in Russian activity in the Baltic Sea that “departs from the normal picture,” leading the Scandinavian nation’s military to increase their preparation.

“We have decided to reposition our troops. This does not necessarily mean an increased threat, but we still want to adapt to the prevailing situation,” Lt. Gen. Leif Michael Claesson told The Associated Press.

Sweden, which is not part of NATO, has among other things noticed a number of Russian Northern Navy landing craft entering the Baltic Sea.

Claesson, Swedish Armed Forces Operations Manager, said some of the actions taken by the Swedish military will be visible and some will not.

“We will act in different places in Sweden, in different ways,” he said, adding that they would be visible on the strategically important Baltic Sea island of Gotland, just over 300km from Sweden. Russian Baltic Sea enclave of Kaliningrad.

On Thursday, a guard platoon was seen marching through the port of the island’s main town, Visby, as well as other ports and the airport.

“We will operate in the air, at sea, below the surface and on the ground in different ways and in different geographical locations,” he said.

Earlier this week, Major General Lena Hallin, head of Sweden’s military intelligence agency MUST, said “we are far from a normal situation for Swedish security today”.

“For some time there have been developments pointing towards a serious security policy crisis in Europe, and this has accelerated in recent months,” Hallin said. “It is an illusion that the tensions in Europe would be temporary.”

She said that “Russia’s main goals are the stability of the regime and the strengthening of its position as a great power. Preventing NATO enlargement in Russia’s neighborhood is a top priority – and it is envisaged in the very long term.

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